A career entrepreneur, Dean set up Visualsoft twenty years ago; the world of digital has changed a lot in that time…
What is it the company does?
Visualsoft is a full service digital agency and eCommerce platform, offering award winning website design, innovative feature development and tailored online marketing services to over 1,200 existing clients.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words
As a service-based company led by amazing staff, my role is to maintain the culture of the company by employing and keeping the right people and ensure Visualsoft continually grows and improves. Ultimately, it’s the people that make the business here. I work to inspire individuals and encourage innovation so that we continue to be the employer of choice and offer a fun and exciting place to work in the North East, as well as other sites in Manchester and London.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
Well, I’ve always worked for myself. I set up Visualsoft 20 years ago and that is when my career in eCommerce was born. To begin with I was involved in the technical side of the business and was full of ideas. By surrounding myself with innovators and individuals who shared the same passion as I did, we were able to bring our ideas to life and get to where we are today.
Now, as CEO, I oversee the overall business and get to work with genuine experts who lead in their respective areas and keep Visualsoft moving in the right direction.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
A great leader is able to build a culture of trust in their business, both for their employees and in themselves.
With this trust, leaders should give their staff the space to flourish and not get in the way of that, but be there to guide and mentor. If you are a company that drives innovation, it’s essential that you nurture skills and creativity, allowing teams and individuals to push boundaries.
Defining a culture of trust, innovation and fun ensures that everyone is working towards to the same goals and is excited to get to work in a morning.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
In the incredibly fast-paced industry we are in, it’s essential that we consistently drive innovation in order to remain competitive, whilst ensuring we offer outstanding client support and service. This can be a slippery slope for some businesses. As the CEO, I need to make sure that we are being disruptive where appropriate and leading rather than following others in our industry.
To set ourselves apart from our competitors, we need to do things our own way that we believe is right and take risks to get where we need to. Another challenge is the rising threat of ransomware and general security in the industry, however we are PCI compliant and work with trusted providers to ensure maximum data privacy and security for clients and their customers alike.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
Sometimes I just need to get out of the office and spend some time away, either exercising or spending time with my kids.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An astronaut, and I still do. I’m fascinated by all things space. If Richard Branson is still looking for people to board his flight to Mars, sign me up.
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
Long, boring, unproductive meetings. I like to make sure people enjoy every aspect of their work, so meetings need to be fun, short, and to the point.
At Visualsoft we always look to establish a more modern way of working that is effective and produces positive results. A few ways I like to conduct meetings is through using the breakout areas and picnic benches in the office, or simply getting out of the office to have a chat over a cup of coffee. This way meetings are less formal, rigid, and confined, allowing ideas to flow and actions to happen.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
In five years’ time, I would love to see Visualsoft defined even further as a leader of eCommerce and mCommerce, as well as innovators, thought leaders and industry experts, both here in the UK and overseas.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
As I’ve already mentioned, I would advise aspiring business leaders to trust the team and people around them. Try to let go of control and allow others to flourish. You’ll learn more than you could even imagine. Don’t be afraid to try new things, approaches, and take risks that you believe are worth taking and will take your business further.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
It’s okay to be different, you don’t have to follow others in your industry.